Fiordland National Park

Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut: Kepler Track Day 2

Day 2 of the Kepler Track is generally known as the best day in terms of views. The walk from Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut takes you along a series of ridges with beautiful views of the mountains surrounding them. Well, that is if you can see it all through the clouds!

Luxmore Hut to Forest Burn Shelter

We got a late start on day 2 due to some morning rain. We waited until it had mostly cleared, then started the ascent up towards the summit of Mount Luxmore. The views are awesome on this part of the track, but the rain soon returned. It started to snow at one point, and the howling winds made everything a bit uncomfortable.

READ MORE: Check out our post about the first day of the Kepler Track!

There’s a 30 minute detour to the summit of Mount Luxmore — it was snowing at that stage, with very little visibility, so we skipped it. In good weather I reckon it’d be well worth it.

We trudged on in hopes of making it to the Forest Burn Shelter before it got any worse. We eventually made it, but not before some slighly scary walking on ridges with very little visibility. So basically it was cold, wet and you couldn’t see much – but it was kinda fun at the same time!

Forest Burn Shelter to Hanging Valley Shelter

This section was probably the hardest of the whole track. The track winds its way up and along a series of ridges – it’s steep in places and it’s unrelenting. Just when you think you might be coming to a flat bit, you’ll round a corner and see another big hill you have to walk up.

On tracks like this you have to expect some struggle – it’s definitely not always fun – but it’s a great feeling when you finally round that last corner and see a small shelter you can rest in for a while!

Hanging Valley Shelter to Iris Burn Hut

After Hanging Valley Shelter the track heads down towards the bush line. There are some great views on this last bit of ridgeline, and in the distance you’ll notice the track descending into the bush. You’ll soon be saying goodbye to these views (which are replaced with more bush and some valley views on day 3), so enjoy it while it lasts!

I reckon the section between Luxmore Hut and the bush line is the most spectacular part of the Kepler Track – hopefully you get better weather than we did (although it still looks impressive no matter the weather). There’ll be times when you can’t see much though, and it gets very cold up there. The shelters are very helpful!

Once you’re back in the bush it’s a steady downhill walk to Iris Burn Hut. It can get a bit hard on the knees, but I’d much rather be walking down than up (which you’d be doing if you walked the track in the opposite direction). There are a couple of waterfalls on this part of the track and a few places where you can see some views — chances are you’ll pushing through it pretty quickly though in order to get to the comfort of Iris Burn Hut.

Iris Burn Hut

Iris Burn hut sits at 500 metres above sea level. It doesn’t get quite as cold at night as Luxmore Hut but the common area isn’t as well set up (not enough tables). There’s a river nearby where you can swim – way too cold for me though!

Iris Burn Falls

Another 40-minute walk through the forest is probably the last thing you’ll feel like doing when you reach Iris Burn Hut, but it’s well worth it. It should take 20 minutes to reach the waterfall, and luckily, it’s a very flat and easy track. The falls are stunning too – watch out for the sand-flies though!

And that’s the end of day 2 of the Kepler Track. It was quite an adventure for us, mostly due to the weather, but we saw some incredible views and the variety was great too. Stay tuned for the third and final day.

Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut Info

  • Distance Walked: Around 15 km, a little more if walking to Iris Burn Falls.
  • Time Spent: Around 6 hours
  • Elevation gain: Iris Burn Hut is 500 masl, and Luxmore Hut is 1000 masl. There’s heaps of uphill sections though, especially in the first couple of hours.

Are you thinking of hiking the Kepler Track? Read our post about day 3, from Iris Burn Hut to Rainbow Reach.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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